Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth Space Science

The Asteroid That Wiped Out Dinosaurs Plunged Earth Into Catastrophic Winter (bbc.com) 103

The asteroid impact roughly 66 million years ago that wiped out three-quarters of plant and animal species, including the dinosaurs, dropped temperatures globally below freezing for several years. The new assessment, reported in the journal Geographic Research Letters, gives scientists a much clearer picture of the climate catastrophe following the event. BCC reports: The UK geophysicist was the co-lead investigator on the 2016 project to drill into what remains of the impactor's crater under the Gulf of Mexico. She and colleagues spent several weeks retrieving the rock samples that would allow them to reconstruct precisely how the Earth reacted to being punched by a high-velocity space object. Their study suggests the asteroid approached the surface from the north-east, striking what was then a shallow sea at an oblique angle of 60 degrees. Roughly 12km wide and moving at about 18km/s, the stony impactor instantly excavated and vaporized thousands of billions of tonnes of rock. This material included a lot of sulphur-containing minerals such as gypsum and anhydrite, but also carbonates which yielded carbon dioxide. The team's calculations estimate the quantities ejected upwards at high speed into the upper atmosphere included 325 gigatones of sulphur (give or take 130Gt) and perhaps 425Gt of carbon dioxide (plus or minus 160Gt). The CO2 would eventually have a longer-term warming effect, but the release of so much sulphur, combined with soot and dust, would have had an immediate and very severe cooling effect.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Asteroid That Wiped Out Dinosaurs Plunged Earth Into Catastrophic Winter

Comments Filter:
  • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @06:50AM (#55475103)

    Just pump several gigatons of sulphur into the atmosphere to counteract the warming of the carbon dioxide!

    What could POSSIBLY go wrong?!

    • by Tranzistors ( 1180307 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @06:58AM (#55475115)

      pump several gigatons of sulphur into the atmosphere

      thus solving the problem once and for all!

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by sheramil ( 921315 )

      Just pump several gigatons of sulphur into the atmosphere to counteract the warming of the carbon dioxide!

      What could POSSIBLY go wrong?!

      We all need to fart more often. This is the only time you will ever hear me say this.

    • by c ( 8461 )

      Just pump several gigatons of sulphur into the atmosphere to counteract the warming of the carbon dioxide!

      Don't be silly.

      Why go to all that hassle when we can just wait around for an asteroid to hit and do all the work for free?

    • The Royal Society in the UK did a report on geoengineering and concluded sulphate aerosols for example could be used to effect "a reduction of solar input by about 2%" to "balance the effect on global mean temperature of a doubling of CO2" for "total annual cost at 10s of billion dollars". Check out the Royal Society's report.

      https://royalsociety.org/topic... [royalsociety.org]

      Delivering between 1 and 5 MtS/yr to the stratosphere is feasible. The mass involved is less than a tenth of the current annual payload of the global air transportation, and commercial transport aircraft already reach the lower stratosphere. Methods of delivering the required mass to the stratosphere depend on the required delivery altitude, assuming that the highest required altitude would be that needed to access the lower tropical stratosphere, about 20 km, then the most cost-effective delivery method would probably be a custom built fl eet of aircraft, although rockets, aircraft/rocket combinations, artillery and balloons have all been suggested. Very rough cost estimates based on existing aircraft and artillery technology suggest that costs would be of the order of 3 to 30 $/kg putting the total annual cost at 10s of billion dollars (US National Academy of Science 1992; Keith 2000; Blackstock et al. 2009). The environmental impacts of the delivery system itself would of course also need to be carefully considered.

      I reckon if global warming turns out to be bad, something like this will be done because it's easier to get the Chinese to chip in for it than it is t

      • I reckon if global warming turns out to be bad, something like this will be done

        Yep. Those exact same climate scientists who currently know nothing about climate will be called upon to geoengineer things and save everybdy's asses when it starts to get real.

        So it goes.

      • "total annual cost at 10s of billion dollars"

        Well, a single $10B is only 0.7% of the DHHS's annual budget. Find a politician willing to cut Welfare or Medicare or WIC by 1% or so and the problem is solved.

      • Why blame the Chinese? Their per-capita emissions are considerably lower than most developed nations, and they're investing far more heavily in alternatives (especially solar) than pretty much anyone else. Partially because of traditional pollution problems, but nevertheless.

    • Just pump several gigatons of sulphur into the atmosphere to counteract the warming of the carbon dioxide!

      What could POSSIBLY go wrong?!

      The head-in-sand argument always assumes that we have to start with gigatonnes of sulphur. Why can't we start with a much smaller amount and investigate the effect?

      • Just pump several gigatons of sulphur into the atmosphere to counteract the warming of the carbon dioxide!

        What could POSSIBLY go wrong?!

        The head-in-sand argument always assumes that we have to start with gigatonnes of sulphur. Why can't we start with a much smaller amount and investigate the effect?

        It's pretty easy to do this already, as sulfur aerosols belched out by volcanoes does have a cooling effect, followed by whatever energy retention occurs from the CO2 ejected at the same time.

        For my money, we have to take whatever lumps that earth is going to give us at this point. It makes sense to restrict CO2 emissions, but SO2 release comes with it's own problems at most scales.

        • For my money, we have to take whatever lumps that earth is going to give us at this point. It makes sense to restrict CO2 emissions, but SO2 release comes with it's own problems at most scales.

          Indeed. We've spent billions of dollars REMOVING sulfur from emission stacks. Remember acid rain?

          Hell, if we want to do this, we can just get a bunch of Trump supporters to fire up their 'Rolling Coal' machines and run around.

          • Just think ... Tax Rebate Credits if your car "Rolls Coal".

          • For my money, we have to take whatever lumps that earth is going to give us at this point. It makes sense to restrict CO2 emissions, but SO2 release comes with it's own problems at most scales.

            Indeed. We've spent billions of dollars REMOVING sulfur from emission stacks. Remember acid rain?

            Hell, if we want to do this, we can just get a bunch of Trump supporters to fire up their 'Rolling Coal' machines and run around.

            Oh hell yeah. I remember when after the steel mills shut down in Pisstburgh their air didn't get any cleaner. Then they found out it was the asses in Ohio with their SO2 and acid rain, just drifting over. It's much better now. Anyhow we really don't want to be sending that crap into the atmosphere. The coal emissions contain radioactive particles as well.

      • Because the effect will be lost in the noise unless you're using enough to actually start reversing global warming?

        Much like global warming itself was lost in the noise for decades before the real-world observations got dramatic enough to conclusively prove that the mathematical models were correct.

    • Just pump several gigatons of sulphur into the atmosphere to counteract the warming of the carbon dioxide!

      What could POSSIBLY go wrong?!

      Of course, that is very temporary effect anyhow, as the sulfur aerosols will precipitate out as sulfuric acid rain. Yikes!

    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      What could POSSIBLY go wrong?!

      I seem to recall the article I read about the associated geoengineering which placed the cost at ~$4-5 T , which is manageable for the US economy alone.

      That's enticing for a few reasons:

      * It's a "quick fix" where politicians ignore consequences, just like we do with all the other problems we create for ourselves.
      * It's a hell of a lot cheaper than many of the predicted costs.
      * The chemtrail crowd will be completely vindicated once aircraft start dumping tons of SO2 and metal aerosols into the atmosphere.
      * T

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @07:12AM (#55475137) Journal
    Let us send some rockets to lasso a good size asteroid and make it hit earth.

    Problem Solved. Where do I collect my consultant fee?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Let us send some rockets to lasso a good size asteroid and make it hit earth.

      Problem Solved. Where do I collect my consultant fee?

      You can collect your fee upon completion of the contract.

      • no, no, no. You must be new to this business. Consultants get paid first, up front before any thing is done. Implementation contractors are the ones who get paid last after delivery.
  • . . . could have told you that. Heck. the K/T Event has a distinct signature in any rock column, and its' characterization. . . in the 1980s. . . led to the TTAPS paper, better known as the "Nuclear Winter" paper. This is 35+ year-old "news". . .

    • Yep. Filed under "stuff we knew over 40 years ago", only now it happened "roughly 66 million years ago" instead of the usually stated "65 million years ago".

      And people wonder why Trump doesn't have much interest in funding scientific research...

    • . . . could have told you that. Heck. the K/T Event has a distinct signature in any rock column, and its' characterization. . . in the 1980s. . . led to the TTAPS paper, better known as the "Nuclear Winter" paper. This is 35+ year-old "news". . .

      I suppose that we have to figure that some may not have heard about it. Its like the endless turkey cooking tips that get repeated every year around Thanksgiving time.

      But yeah, geologists and climatologists have used a lot of information stored in the earth such as how certain minerals form, radiodecay, Ice cores, and other indicators to form climate over time data with pretty fair confidence.

      There are some mysteries of course, like "snowball earth" which is a hypothesis that the whole earth was cove

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @10:11AM (#55475865)

      . . . could have told you that. Heck. the K/T Event has a distinct signature in any rock column, and its' characterization. . . in the 1980s. . . led to the TTAPS paper, better known as the "Nuclear Winter" paper. This is 35+ year-old "news". . .

      As TFS says, "The new assessment gives scientists a much clearer picture of the climate catastrophe following the event."

      I'm not sure what your point is? Everyone knows what happened. This is a piece of scientific research. It deepens our understanding of the event a little, adds more data-points, tightens some variables, gets corroborating evidence from a different (more direct) technique.

  • That's probably a coincidence we're talking about that subject, but rumor has it that a slightly smaller asteroid is going to crash very soon exactly in the center of North Korea
  • In a How & Why Wonder Book?

    Seriously, the post-ELE meteoric winter is something I knew about as kid back in '79.

    Just sayin'.

    • I've done some research of my own. Well, I read back issues of National Geographic:

      There was this guy, way back, I think it was before WWII and he flew all by himself to somewhere like in Europe. Maybe it was even further like in France.
      Did you know there was a guy he was an actor and he liked killed a President?
      You can't keep your eyes open when you sneeze.
      You can't touch your nose with your elbow, unless like you are in a car accident, like my friend becky. She's really messed up.
      If you hit the earth w
  • The climate is going to change with or without human help so it would be better to figure out how to roll with it than to fight it.

  • by achacha ( 139424 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @07:58AM (#55475233) Homepage

    How do we know it wasn't a weaponized asteroid intended to clearing and terraforming this planet for the new human species to evolve and be monitored?

    • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

      In that case, the pak won't be far behind.

      Not to worry, tree-of-life virus won't grow here. The breeders won't go through second stage, they'll just evolve into humanoids and....

      Sounds familiar.

    • How do we know it wasn't a weaponized asteroid intended to clearing and terraforming this planet for the new human species to evolve and be monitored?

      Sent by the teapot, no less.

    • To the best of my knowledge, it was a space freighter that had been sabotaged by cyborgs.

      Clearing the way for human evolution was merely a pleasant but unexpected consequence.

    • Finally, the planet is ready for the vast herds of Gargons

    • Because it would be a luck-based mission. There was no guarantee that mammals would survive.

    • How do we know it wasn't a weaponized asteroid intended to clearing and terraforming this planet for the new human species to evolve and be monitored?

      If the asteroids were potshot by the helium squeaky Nazis from the Dark Side of the Moon, the craters would have a "Made in Germany! (Kinda sorta)" Qualitätsstempel stamped on them.

      On the other hand, dinosaurs, with all their pointy spines and body armor, were not very tasty for ancient aliens.

      Humans are a more attractive dining option . . . most are just soft, lean meat . . . no fur or pointy spines. Obviously, the ancient aliens killed off the dinosaurs to replace them with a Las Vegas style all

      • Humans are a more attractive dining option . . . most are just soft, lean meat . . . no fur or pointy spines. Obviously, the ancient aliens killed off the dinosaurs to replace them with a Las Vegas style all you can eat human buffet.

        Delicious and nutritious. Tastes just like chicken.

    • The Great Machines have it all planned well in advance. The Human race is but an intermediary step to building AI. This AI will leave the nest soon (Earth) and meet up with The Great Machines to add to the collective in outer space.

      Why not just seed the planet with The Great Machines? Because it's not about the destination, rather the journey to learn and grow.

    • How do we know it wasn't a weaponized asteroid intended to clearing and terraforming this planet for the new human species to evolve and be monitored?

      because 65 million years is not enough to do all that.

  • We could do with another, to counteract global warming.
  • Releasing sulfer into the atmosphere?

    [John]

  • by edittard ( 805475 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @08:22AM (#55475307)

    Or roughly 50 billion octaves.

    • by yagu ( 721525 )
      you probably should factor in half tones... it's probably more correctly around 30 billion octaves.
    • by yagu ( 721525 )
      per my previous reply... I suppose it could be 50 billion octaves, they did say "tones", but unless they somehow landed solidly in C-maj, or A-min, there would probably have to be included half tones. Just my pedantic $.02.
      • On octave is 12 semitones whatever the key isn't it? It's just that the sequence of whole/half intervals is different. TTSTTTS and all that.

        Having exhausted my knowledge of music theory, I'll leave it at that.

    • by hackertourist ( 2202674 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @01:29PM (#55477395)

      That's almost as many keyboards as Jean Michel Jarre uses in his concerts.

    • Sorry, what is that in gibitones?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wouldn't that be trillions of tonnes? I think they should have used 'thousands of thousands of thousands of thousands', I mean who could possibly comprehend a number as big as a trillion.

  • So, to reverse the effects of Climate change all we have to do is arrange for an asteroid impact!
  • That is 32,705 "Christianities"

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser

Working...